Driving down Alter Road is always an adventure. The border between Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park is a clear line of demarcation between the have-somes and the have-nots. Turning onto Kercheval, you're immediately confounded to see a concrete barrier in the street spanning sidewalk to sidewalk. Across wooden sheds, a sign reads "West Park Market" — the clever ruse Pointers implemented to obstruct Detroiters from passing through their fine town.
On the Detroit side of the blockade, a friendlier message faces the parking lot to the side of the bar. A lovely graffiti piece reads, "Smile Your Dad's From Detroit," reminding patrons where they are. A wooden sign rests over the window, serving as the bar's name tag. On most nights, the neighborhood is quiet and calm.
Upon entering, your olfactory sense begins to tingle as the combination of stale smoke and dust wafts into your nostrils. The vintage beer signage, taxidermy, and hubcaps that adorn the walls hark back to Detroit's industrious past and create an environment akin to the type of place our fathers and grandfathers would stop by after work to have a couple of pops.
Since there's no bike rack outside of the establishment, it's not unusual to see a bike or two leaned up against the thrift store couch by the front window.
Aside from what's hanging on them, the walls feel homey. On one side of the room, they're painted robin's egg blue and light brown. On the side nearest the bar, the walls are covered by wood paneling. The bar itself is topped with a formica laminate, and patrons have the luxury of staring at themselves in the mirror behind the shimmering bottles of booze.
Part of the charm of this place is the furniture. The barstools are old and of varying styles, as if they've been salvaged from various bars who have remodeled since the 1970s. On the other side of the room, old dinette sets line the wall. Again, the chairs are mismatched and appear to be secondhand, or, shall we say, pre-loved.
My Dad's Bar is a great place not only because it's a welcoming place to shoot the breeze or catch a ballgame, but also because bartenders like Jeremy and Chelsea are much friendlier and more skillful than those at your average dive.
Toward the back of the bar, a narrow hallway leads to the restrooms and out the back door to the fenced-in patio, where on summer nights, a local man named Bob plays guitar and harmonica. Bob's affable personality ensnares customers, who gather around and listen to him play. He even takes requests.
Out back, others sit at picnic tables and chew the fat while enjoying some fresh air. It's the perfect setting for making new friends or chatting up the person you've been staring at all night.
The jukebox is an essential piece of machinery, and the box at Dad's is unique in its own right. First of all, it doesn't connect to the Internet, it plays compact discs. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the content of Dad's jukebox is that it consists of mix CDs curated by employees and regulars. Whether you want to do shots of rail tequila and dance to ABBA's "Take a Chance On Me" or sing along to Kenny Rogers & the First Edition's "Just Dropped In," this juke's got you covered. — mt